A number of Catholic colleges and universities will mandate that students be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to attend classes in the fall, reported the Catholic News Service.
For most colleges and universities it has been over a year since in-person classes have been in session. With the vaccine now widely available, some school administrators see a vaccine requirement as the safest and easiest way to return to normal.
The University of Notre Dame has been in the forefront of the push for inoculating students. Among the first colleges to do so, they opened an on-campus vaccination clinic for students on April 8. Shortly after the launch of the clinic, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins announced that returning students for the fall 2021 semester would have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The safety of the University and local communities is always our highest priority,” Father Jenkins said. “Requiring students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 is a new and important addition to our health policies, one that we believe will enhance public health at Notre Dame and in our community, while also contributing to our ability to return to a more vibrant campus environment.”
The announcement, which was sent to students, noted that “the University will accommodate documented medical or religious exemptions.”
Catholic colleges and universities requiring COVID-19 vaccines in the fall include (according to a list from the Chronicle of Higher Education):
College of the Holy Cross
Loyola Marymount University
Loyola University Chicago
Saint Mary’s College (IN)
St. Edward’s University (TX)
St. John’s University (NY)
University of Notre Dame
While the majority of colleges that have announced they will be requiring a COVID-19 vaccination are private institutions, a small number of public universities, including the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, have recently joined their ranks.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has reiterated the Vatican’s position on the acceptability of COVID-19 vaccinations. Considering the gravity of the disease, the bishops echoed Pope Francis in saying that “receiving the vaccine ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community.”
Last December the bishops addressed moral concerns raised by the fact that the vaccines available today have some connection to cell lines derived from aborted fetuses. The bishops announced that it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive a vaccine, even if it was produced or testing using cell lines from aborted fetuses.